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Don’t Believe the Hype

Front page of the paper this morning: Warren Riley’s mug and the headline, “Officials say city making headway against crime.” Apparently the superintendent and the mayor had a press conference on Friday to “reassure” us. I don’t feel reassured, and here’s why.

From the article:

At the news conference, evidence and numbers detailing any success resulting from the new initiatives were scant, except in the area of vehicle checkpoints.

Police are conducting traffic stops every night, Riley said. So far, the effort has produced more than 1,600 citations, 24 narcotics arrests and 35 arrests on outstanding warrants.

To date, 15 people have been murdered in the city this year. One of those homicides, the slaying of Jealina Brown, 22, has resulted in an arrest.

I’m not sure if that murder count includes the shooting of a Marrero man that took last night a few blocks from our home. But that’s not the number that got my attention. I noticed the 1,600 citations and the 35 arrests. I also noticed the numbers that aren’t there. There’s no breakdown on what those citations were for. There’s no breakdown on the nature of those arrests.

Anecdotally, I’m hearing about citations being issued at these checkpoints for minor violations like tinted windows, or even completely invented stuff. A friend of mine was issued a citation for an “open container” which he didn’t have. I suspect a good number of those 35 arrests are for things like outstanding traffic tickets. Pardon my skepticism, but I’ve learned that’s how we do things in Orleans Parish. Killers go free, but if you have an unpaid ticket you’ll go to prison.

Turning to the op-ed page, a letter to the editor from Steven Lindsley bears out the worst of my fears:

About a week after attending a rally at City Hall to protest violent crime in New Orleans, I was stopped by a patrol officer for having a suspended license. In spite of my explanation that this charge had been resolved by my attorney in November in Jefferson Parish, and that I was 64 years old and very tired from working 10 hours that day, I was ordered into a police car and taken to Central Lockup to be “fast-tracked” for a new court date.

I was searched and then put in a cage with over 50 other accused criminals. This holding pen had four wooden benches, a urinal and no place to sit for the 30-plus latecomers. Fifteen people had to lie on the concrete floor and the rest of us had to stand.

At 3 a.m., I was finally able to contact my wife to come bail me out, but it was not until 7:30 a.m. that I was released…

Is this an example of Police Chief Warren Riley’s program to crack down on crime in Orleans Parish?

If so, I will soon be putting my recently renovated home on the market and joining the long line of disaffected New Orleanians who have tired of the ineptitude, stupidity, rudeness, mismanagement and lack of effective leadership in the city.

Until I see numbers to the contrary, I continue to believe that checkpoints and traffic stops are an ineffective approach that only serves to alienate law-abiding citizens.

Published inNew OrleansNews & MediaPolitix


  1. Lee Lee

    In this youngin’s opinion, the only thing police checkpoints are good for are: Drunk Driving and Seatbelts.

    Doesn’t NO have any detectives? Or a squad primarily dedicated to violent crime?

  2. Richard Richard

    After I went to the airport rally for the Saints coming home (at 1:00 a.m.), I had no choice but to spend the night in Metry in a chair in a buddy’s hotel room. I wasn’t about to chance anything with expired tags.

  3. I almost choked on my bagel when I read that this morning.
    Some how we are to believe that with no “new’ initative nor any new ideas that “Crime” got scared and ran.

    The checkpoints are one step above stcking a fishing net out on Carrollton and seeing what they can reel in.

    We are still waiting to hear about our promised walk thru.

    As always the message form the Mayors Office is loud and clear
    “Shut up and go back to your hovels”

  4. God almighty, this is awful.

    Mark Twain wasn’t kidding about “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” The damned lying numbers are being used against the protesting citizenry.

  5. Sheila Sheila

    Okay, this is off topic, but I saw your book list and B., please if you’re reading up on pregnancy, skip What to Expect. It’s disempowering and alarmist about all the wrong things–I had a midwife advise me to burn my copy and she’s not wrong; I couldn’t bring myself to do that so I left it on the curb but later realized I had just passed along the message that women can’t be trusted to grow or birth a baby.

    Try Ina May Gaskin (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth), Henci Goer (The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth–which is alarmist about the right things!), or Penny Simkin (The Birth Partner) or Pam England (Birthing from Within). Samuels and Samuels (The New Well Pregnancy Book) and The Pregnancy Journal (can’t remember the author) are also worth looking at if you need every detail of what’s happening inside.

  6. To stay off topic (it’s like Tron, once you turn …), I must second Sheila on the What to Expect books. They should be hamster bedding. Really. G Bitch got into a great letter fight with the authors a decade ago and ground them into the dirt. They’re clueless about diet and almost everything else. You ought to ask G about it sometime.

    btw: G shouts out Sheila Kitzinger as another fine natural childbirth author.

    We went the Bradley route and loved it.

  7. Elizabeth Elizabeth

    Do check the statistics of checkpoints and traffic stops – if implemented properly they are extrememly effective. The point a lot of offices do not utilize though is to set up officers a few blocks before the stop and pull those over trying to evade the checkpoint – those people are your more serious targets. My only retort to your unfortunate experience, because yes there was an error – dont fault the officer for taking action – that was not a police error but rather the district attorney error for failing to remove that from their computer – All that to say – Your lament sounded eerily like the resounded phrase I hear all too often “Why stop me for speeding when there are real criminals out there? which all too often changes to, when you are t-boned by the guy speeding – Where are the police when you need ’em?”

  8. Frank Russo Frank Russo

    Bottom line? We live in America, not Russia. We have freedoms or rather we did until garbage like this was allowed to continue. I can not believe that no one has challenged this in court. The company I’m employed by wants to relocate 12 employees to New Orleans and set up another 12 new jobs within the first 3 months of operation. I was considering coming back… yes I used to live in the garden district… very fond memories. However, I’m NOT going to do so while Nagin is in office. Between “chocolate city” and this new gestapo crap, you guys can keep the city until you kick his ass back out. Me? I’m staying put until you do. Who the heck wants to live like that? I value my freedom.

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